Vitamin D & Cancer – The Latest Research

Could the sunshine vitamin be the ultimate rescue from cancer?

Image by PublicDomainPictures

The sunshine vitamin, the only vitamin human body can produce itself, has long been known for its unrivalled qualities of making us better. But its exact connection with cancer had been a mystery for many years.

“Vitamin D is a supplement that’s readily available, cheap and has been used and studied for decades. Our findings, especially the strong risk reduction seen in individuals with normal weight, provide new information about the relationship between vitamin D and advanced cancer.” Dr Paulette Chandler

There had been reports suggesting the death rate of certain cancer types in people who live near the equator is far less than others. This was a major hint suggesting it may be the Vitamin D, they get abundantly from sunshine preventing them from developing those cancers into advanced stages. And another previous study also reported that about 72% of its participant cancer patients were deficient in vitamin D.

Ending this confusion, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the USA has cleared the connection between vitamin D and advanced cancer.

What did they find?

The team primarily observed a clear reduction in cancer-related death rate with the intake of vitamin D. They discovered that Vitamin D is connected with an impressive 17% lowered risk of advanced cancer. 

And what is more interesting is that this value was even higher (38%) for participants who were within the normal body mass index (BMI). According to the researchers, this means that having a healthy weight can definitely benefit vitamin Ds ability to lower advance cancer risk!

Proudly presenting their results, the first author of the study, Dr Paulette Chandler said, “These findings suggest that vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing advanced cancers.”

Interesting facts about the study

The study tested both Vitamin D and omega-3 effect on both major cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

It was an intensive and thorough study which spanned over a period of five years. None of the > 25,000 participants (males >age 50 & females >age 55) had cancer when the study began. And they were of different ethnicities. Out of them all, only about 13,000 were given vitamin D and others were given placebos.

  • There were a total of 1617, who developed invasive cancer within the 5yr period.
  • 226 were diagnosed with cancer (out of the 13,000 who received Vitamin D)
  • Out of them, there were only 56 cancer cases from people who had a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25).
  • 274 were diagnosed with cancer (out of the participants who did not receive vitamin D /placebo test)
  • Out of this placebo test, there were 96 cancer cases from people who had a healthy body weight (BMI less than 25).

What an outcome!

Vitamin D is ‘known to’,

  • Boost the immune system
  • Elevate mood which helps with depression
  • Promotes calcium absorption in the body.
  • Helps in bone growth and bone remodelling
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Helps in glucose metabolism
  • Helps in cell growth
Image source: NIH (USA)

How Can We Get Vitamin D?

  • By food (e.g. fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, etc, fish liver oil, beef liver, cheese, egg yolk, mushroom, etc.)
  • By sunshine
  • By dietary supplements

The research study has been published in the journal, JAMA Network Open.